If you love coffee and you enjoy a cocktail, then meet Kahlua, possibly your new favourite spirit. Kahlua is a coffee flavoured liqueur that originated in Mexico back in the 1930s. Like most spirits, it became involved with the world of cocktails with some classics made using it.
Plus, people have continued to invent new and tasty ways to enjoy it. So let’s look at what is Kahlua and what tasty things we can make with it.
What is Kahlua?
Back in 1936, two brothers and two other friends had the idea of using Arabica coffee beans for a liqueur. One of them was a chemist and working with the finest ingredients that they had near their home in Mexico, they started work on their masterpiece. According to the Kahlua website, the name they chose was from an ancient Arabic slang word for coffee. Four years later, they took their product and headed to the US to start selling it there.
Now while we are focused on Kahlua today, it is worth noting that it isn’t the only coffee liqueur out there although each has their own special taste. Tia Maria is one of the best known of the other coffee flavoured liqueurs. Sheridan’s is a recognisable Irish coffee liqueur that comes in a half black and half white bottle. It is unique in that the two sections contain separate drinks that are mixed together as you pour.
The first place to start with any liqueur is with the classic cocktails that have usually made it famous. Two stand out with Kahlua but there are plenty of others – Black Russian and White Russian. These are two of the original cocktails and are still as enjoyable today as back when they were first created.
The Black Russian is a mix of vodka and coffee liqueur (Kahlua) that first started being enjoyed back in the late 1940s. A Belgian barman called Gustave Tops created in the Hotel Metropole in Brussels in honour of Perle Mesta, the US ambassador to Luxembourg who was staying there at the time. Why Russian, you might then wonder? Simple – the vodka.
The classic drink uses 5cl vodka to 2cl Kahlua in an old-fashioned glass with ice.
The White Russian is a twist from the Black Russian by adding cream to the mixture. It was created back in the 1960s but was seen as a bit boring until it featured in the 1998 film The Big Lebowski, which made it a huge hit.
The classic drink has 5cl vodka, 2cl coffee liqueur and 3cl fresh cream although there are lots of different variations.
The Espresso Martini is the drink for coffee fans because it features coffee and coffee liqueur. The drink was created in the late 1980s by Dick Bradsell at Brasserie Soho in London who wanted to something to wake her up (and a bit more but we’ll keep it polite).
He created a drink that had 5cl vodka, 1cl Kahlua, 1 short strong Espresso and sugar syrup to taste. A short, by the way, is not a shot – it is also known as a ristretto and is to do with the flavour of the coffee. Ingredients are added to a shaker with ice, shaken and strained into the .
Some cocktails just look fun and the B-52 is a perfect example. It is a layered shot drink that features Kahlua, an Irish cream such as Baileys and Grand Marnier (or triple sec or Cointreau if you like) layered into a shot glass. The B-52 was an American bomber used in the Vietnam War but was actually made by a bartender in the Banff Springs Hotel, Banff, Alberta. And it was named after the group called the B-52s (who were named after the plane).
Anyway, the drink is easy to make. Take a spoon and pour 2cl Kahlua then 2cl Baileys and then 2clinto the glass. This will keep them in their smart little layers.
Modern twist cocktails
The great thing about the renewed popularity of cocktails is that there are lots of new versions of older drinks being created, along with completely new cocktails entirely. Here are some that caught my eye using Kahlua.
Kahlua Iced Coffee
If you want a simple and tasty cocktail that you can make for larger groups, then this is a great idea (and it comes from Kahlua themselves). All you need is a cup, glass or carafe with ice and iced coffee. Just add a shot of Kahlua into the mix, stir and enjoy. You can make it as strong or as gentle as you want.
The Brave Bull was said to have been created in the movie of the same name released back in the 1950 and is what’s known as a Duo Cocktail, like the Black Russian. Why – because it only has two ingredients.
In this case, you mix one-part Kahlua to two parts tequila in a with ice. Give it a mix and enjoy.
This one screams sunny summer evening and is a bit like a very adult milkshake. You need afor this one to hold it all.
Grab the blender and mix one-part Kahlua, 1-part vodka and 1-part Irish cream liqueur such as Baileys with 3 scoops of vanilla ice cream and some ice. Blend then pour into the glass – just don’t try to drink it too quickly or you will get one of those headaches from the ice cream (or the alcohol!)
This is another simple drink that you can adjust as much as you want to taste. Brew your favourite coffee, around eight ounces, is ideal and add a shot of Kahlua. You shouldn’t need sugar as the liqueur is quite sweet, but you may want to add milk or cream.
Some cocktails just make you smile because of the name and this is one that made me chuckle. It is a thick, rich and sweet drink that is another grown-up milkshake type drink.
You need your blender again for this one. Add 4 ounces of coconut cream, 2 ounces Kahlua, 1 ounce of dark rum, 1 ounce dark crème de cacao and 4 ounces of half and half (in other words 2 ounces milk and 2 ounce cream if you are in the UK) with 2 cups of ice and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Mix everything together and pour into a tall glass then top with whipped cream and a little chocolate syrup.
Other uses for Kahlua
Don’t forget that as well as drinks, Kahlua is a great liqueur to use for cooking. There are lots of very tasty recipes out there for cheesecakes, trifles and other desserts using it, so you can always find interesting ways to use a bottle once you buy one!
If you are already a Kahlua fan, I’d love to hear your favourite drink or recipe – just hit the comments below!